Ernst Ludwig Kirchner - In front of the barbershop

by Laura Gerstmann


Flat and static - almost completely frozen in themselves, the people are serially presented to the viewer in front of a hair salon. With empty eyes and without any eye contact, they go about their activities in the big city. Each is isolated for himself. 

In his last creative period, Kirchner turned to the theme of the big city one last time. But this time, unlike in 1913/14 in the Berlin years, he was no longer interested in the deep psychological meaning, but in the pure events. Kirchner's change of style was now characterized by spacelessness and flatness. Despite the division into foreground, middle ground and background, there is no depth to the picture. Added to this are simplified figure outlines, preferably in profile and frontal view, in which any plastic body forms are lost. This is additionally supported by the prevailing colorfulness. The colors are mostly mixed with white and have thus lost their lightness. 


Kirchner tried his hand at abstraction here, but he never succeeded completely. He tried to transfer what he had experienced into a compositional surface order of basic forms. This failed, however, because Kirchner's people were always real people and not some extras. 


Ernst Ludwig Kirchner - In front of the barbershop

Oil on canvas, 1926, 119 x 100cm , Albertinum, New Picture Gallery in Dresden